Bob’s Winings
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This page contains Winings from the 3rd Quarter of the year 2007.

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September 27, 2007 

Wow, I laid an egg.  Last night was my turn to set up a dinner for our northern New Jersey wine group.  I had combed the local restaurant guides and selected a place that had an impressive media file. 

"Passionné is not only the name of Michael Carrino’s highly anticipated new restaurant; it is his way of life. Raised in the predominantly Italian culture in Nutley, New Jersey, Carrino’s passion for cooking began in a home where food was the center of every social occasion. Inspired by his maternal grandfather and his Italian heritage, Carrino began experimenting in the kitchen as a young boy."

The menu was interesting to me and added a night of French wine-consuming to increase my pinot noir data bank. 

Passed Hors d’oeuvres

  • Smoked Salmon crepe with crème fraîche and caviar

  • Caramelized leek and onion tart with gruyere

First Course Choice of

  • Braised Rabbit Ravioli with chanterelle mushrooms and a light Pernod cream

  • Baby arugula tossed in an aged sherry vinaigrette with julienne of tomato, red onion and shaved Smithfield country ham with chipped Granna Padano cheese

Choice of Entrée

  • Roulade of Long Island Duckling with sautéed spinach and confit over braised greens

  • Black currant demi glace 
Pan Seared Halibut over forbidden black risotto, shallot fondue and sauce beurre rouge or

  • Grilled Double Lamb Chop with stone ground mustard rub, baby vegetables and dauphinoise potatoes


  • Crème Brulee

  • Tart Fine - sweet apples baked golden brown in French pastry topped with vanilla glace

  • Torte - Strawberry and Dark Chocolate Ganache Torte with crème anglaise and chantilly cream

So where do I start?  I start with the upfront statement that the night was so disappointing that I failed to get the list of wines we consumed.  I submit the offerings in picture form, but cannot replicate the list.

A nice mix of rose, white and red lined the table so I drank.  The appetizers were OK, very heavy towards the salmon stuffed mini crepes and light on the caramelized leeks. 

I had the braised rabbit ravioli, yes singular, in the biggest of plates with too little Pernod for any distinctive flavor.  At this point I was switching between white and red just to drown my nervous stomach as my tablemates tried to figure if they liked the first course or not.

Main course for me was the lamb chops, the fattiest, grisliest chops I have had in quite some time.  As I pre-paid for 21 and 16 showed, they placed the extra meals on the table.  I could bring five dinners home.  I tried the duck, but once I saw Keith push his plate away, I thought twice before actually ingesting it.   I heard the halibut was good.  For me this was a major disappointment and I apologize to those new members.  I do not want them to feel all our events have that bad of a price/quality ratio.  I ask you give me one more opportunity to set something up. 

Thank God, Joann and Caroline livened up the night with braised conversation and lively comment.  My crème brulee was good, but no coffee or tea, yes, no coffee or tea.  Christ on a cracker; I guess I am not cut out for fine French dining. 

So I consumed but didn’t record and drove home kicking myself for doing such a crappy job of making this a different kind of night.  I need to recover my reputation as an event planner, wine friend and foodie.  I went 0-3 last night.

September 23, 2007

Tonight was the kickoff dinner for the 2007-2008 Essex County Wine Society.  Try getting out of the house by saying you are going to The Strip House for a wine dinner.  Not the name to get a free pass.  Be that as it may, as this being my first official dinner, I believe they wanted me to feel comfortable.  The best way to do that is to serve wines that suit my style.  Check this out, we started the first course with a buttery rich, heavily oaked chardonnay from California.  The first course of corn and crab chowder came with a 2005 Beringer Private reserve Chardonnay whose toffee, toasted caramel and vanilla ran circles around the fruit.   So far I was one for one.  But the night got better when the filet mignon was saddled with a 1998 Mas Ingeus 112.  That’s a big ass Priorat, friends, that I would invite to any dinner or night of TV.  Yes, a firm wine with the guts to stand next to a seasoned, peppery grilled cut of cow.

Doing the Euro thing, they tried to piss in my oatmeal with a salad after my beef.  The sherry vinaigrette dressing was mellow but still challenged the 1997 Tardieu-Laurent Hermitage.  That’s a syrah, Stan, a northern Rhone syrah.  I went light on the salad and leaned heavily towards the wine for this course.  We rounded out the night with a 1988 Chateau Guiraud Sauternes that was the best friend of our Peach Melba crepes. 

The venue was great as we byob’d but I heard the wine list at this place is obscenely expensive.  Several of the people at my table are in the wine trade and they mentioned the mark ups here are steep.  I didn’t get a chance to look over the list, but I am not looking to impress myself with a $90 bill for an $18 bottle of red.   

We start this year off with a white burgundy tasting and I look forward to this one.  I understand there is a Drouhin on the list and I tried to invite Laurent to join me as a mystery guest to help me with the nuances of white Burgundies.  One of these days, yes one of these days…..

September 22, 2007

Just a quick note on some local New Jersey wine news, even though there is another web site claiming this distinction.  Last Wednesday the NJ Devils hockey team held an invitation-only wine tasting at the soon to open restaurant in their new arena.  Yes, Newark, NJ is now the proud home of the NJ Devils, a brand spanking new arena with first class restaurant and the wines of Tony Soprano’s shrink.  Lorraine Bracco’s wines were featured at the exclusive party as Mayor Corey Booker and his parents discussed wine with the proud wine proprietor.  Lending his support was actor Vincent Curatola - Johnny “Sack” Sacramoni.  You might remember Johnny’s last gig as the Member’s Only jacket-wearing mystery man in a Hillary Clinton ad.  Maybe the news that didn’t make it to the media is that Dr. Melfi is moving her offices from the upscale Montclair area to a renovated brownstone near Military Park for a spin-off show.  Her first client might just be Devil’s owner Jeff Vanderbeek after the first year attendance numbers come in lower than the Continental Arena numbers.  I’m going out on a limb here, but check the attendance numbers this February, when the wind chill is -10 and the team is playing in front of 9,000.  My suggestion is a couch with the Devil’s logo and a second with the Mayoral emblem.  I wish them well but the move is unfortunately NOT going to live up to expectations.  Has anyone checked the crime statistics for Newark?  That’s what I want to do, be leaving the arena at 11:45 pm for a six-block walk to the train station, or my car.  Report of first mugging or robbery will lead to diminish attendance.  The arena is not like Madison Square Garden where the trains are directly below the venue.  We are talking about a half-mile walk, or rip-off cab ride.  Remember, you heard it here first gang.

September 17. 2007

OK, I want in.  I want to know who the hell in the Discovery channel production staff approves these stupid “in search of” shows?  I was watching Beyond Invention (wow that sounds geeky) and the title of the episode was Crypto Zoology.  They spent an hour looking for some sea monster in British Columbia and some Tasmanian tiger in Australia.  Big surprise, they never found them, just showed footage of side scan sonar or night pictures of other animals, but NO elusive monsters.  Hey Discovery Channel, I heard there is a half man / half grape vine roaming the area of Howell Mountain.  I need a $150,000 budget and a crew of twelve to see if I can bring back evidence.  Part of the discovery process is drinking from every winery in the area to see if we can discern the human influence on the grape vine.  I will even make a scientist test the DNA of every grape I drink.  Hell, we can even drag the wooded areas with side scan sonar, echolocation and IR detection equipment.  I have heard stories for years of the half man / half grape vine and damn it, someone has to save those people on Howell Mountain. 

I got one that will be even less expensive for me not to find, the Jersey Devil.  Yes, that four foot high, crazed beast that roams the Pinelands in southern NJ.  He must exist, we named our hockey team after him.  I got one very easy to find, I heard there is a stick figure that drinks wine and roams the wine cellars of people in northern NJ.  I’m sure with a few night vision cameras and baiting a few cellars with open bottles of 1982 Chateau Latour or Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, he might just be photographed at the bait. How can someone make a show knowing they will not find what they are looking for?  Two clues, a monster is not going to exist alone so there would eventually be many, look at the rabbit for proof.  Also, they would eventually die and someone would finally stumble upon the carcass as proof.  Thank God I was drinking during that show, it made me believe they could actually find something.  Alcohol will do that to you.

Remember, drink what you like and keep your thumb out of my punt-WW.

2005 Bodegas Bocopa Conde de Alicante Monastrell Barrica Especial $ (7.99)    I give this one a bit more for the fact it was so cheap and wasn’t bad.  Not much finish but nice start with the blackberry and plum.  A fitting wine for a show that was a foregone conclusion.

September 16, 2007

Think your job is tough?  Try being a liquor salesman in Baghdad.  It seems that in 1993, Saddam put the hammer down on public drinking.  The enjoyment of food, drink and watching scantily clad women belly dance became a punishable offense.  Today, there are only two areas in Iraq that can sell alcohol.  It is a double-edged sword.  The storeowners have clients, as a matter of fact with the holiday of Ramadan coming; patrons are buying alcohol by the case instead of the bottle.  Those deploring this vice send their message by bombing the stores.  Undeterred, the alcoholic favored son is Arak, an anise or date-based distilled spirit.  Arak is referred to as the milk of lions as this potent clear spirit turns milky white when water or ice are added.  It is believed to have been developed in the 10th century by an Arab alchemist. 

After the fall of Saddam, alcohol sales skyrocketed as imported beer and whiskey flowed freely.  But today, the struggle of ideology creates a dangerous setting for those wanting to enjoy the national drink, those trying to make a living selling the national beverage and those wanting to void the country of it.  Arak was not imparted by the west but many see it as leading to the decay of their society.  Here we would legislate the use and control it, there they simply blow it up.  That alone speaks volumes.  There are customers, plenty of people wishing to enjoy a sip of Arak prior to dining with family or friends, but their personal liberties are being attacked in the deadliest of ways. 

People, can’t we sit down at a table with a bottle of Arak and settle things in Iraq so we can stop the attack.  I offer diplomacy by the bottle.

Wino Wilson suggested I start his catch phrase at the end of my entries so when he finally podcasts, everyone will know its his.

Remember, drink what you like and keep your thumb out of my punt…  WW

September 15, 2007

How do you cure a hangover?  Lunch with Wino John.  That will wake you up, or at least get you drinking again.  As you know, with WJ the bigger, bolder cabs get him excited.  So I picked the pinotest pinot for lunch.  This pinot was so pinot it was pinot meunier, the Schemp of the pinots.  (Look up the history of the three stooges, then laugh).  This grape is usually a bit player on the champagne/sparkling wine stage.  Wanting to mix things up, I found a bottle of 100% pinot meunier and opened it before he had a chance to stage a protest.  A much chickier chick wine than pinot noir, but I can see why it can play a supporting role.  I wouldn’t spend the money a second time, but I was glad to have had the experience.  Not many bottles of pinot meunier around in the stores I shop so I can confidently tell St. Peter, “Done it” when I get to the Pearly Gates and he asks me if I every had pinot meunier.

2000 Domaine Chandon Pinot Meunier $$ (25.00)   Too pricey for this wine, this one was already heading south.  Red fruit of strawberry and raspberry flavors with a touch of spice.

September 14, 2007

Darkness greeted me this morning as I hopped into the Flintstone mobile and headed for Long Island for an early appointment.  As I waited at the GWB toll plaza with a thumping head, blood shot eyes and shakes-the-clown grip on the steering wheel, a thought pulsed in and out of my head.  Was this the hangover or was I still drunk and tired for the few hours of sleep?  I read a great deal on hangovers and proposed cures, but I never quite figured out when the night’s drunk is officially surrendered to the morning’s hangover.  I am sure there is some metabolic structure to the technical cross over, but I have never understood the signs.  I go to bed drunk and wake up assigning everything to the hangover.  I judge too harshly or too prematurely.  Perhaps the hangover comes at 11am if I get home at 2am and only have three and a half hours sleep.  I guess it really doesn’t matter.  What it comes down to is that having a fun night at Wino Odd Job’s bar leads to a world of hurt in the morning.

Last night, a small group of us were treated to the culinary flare of soon-to-be Wino Brian.  I say soon-to-be as his drink of choice for WOJ's karaoke was Bud Lite.  Bud Lite I say…  I daftly say the food was amazing, because that is what I hear the foodies on TV say when they try to bring you into their world.  The salad, shrimp, filet mignon could not aptly be defined by me, but suffice it to say my taste buds are still at full attention. 

Not knowing what to expect, I grabbed two bottles of wine from my cellar as a token of appreciation.  The first warm up wine, somewhat embarrassed me as I offered up a rosé.  Yes, I had a rosé in my cellar.  It was a bottle of Oriel Femme Fatal the crisp Bordeaux rosé that is as manly as rosé comes.  I figured it would be good for sitting around the deck, in the waning summer weather.  I guess Wino Odd Job had enough of my wine daftness and brought out a beautiful bottle of 2001 Torres Mas La Plana Cabernet Sauvignon for dinner.  Bottle one  quickly turned into a second bottle of Mas La Plana.  This elegant cab was the seductive partner of the filet mignon showing mint and eucalyptus early in the glass and settling down to a black fruit, coffee and tobacco wine with a kiss of anise on the finish.  Killer food and killer wine lead to my over indulgence and my killer shakes at 6:30 this morning as I bounded eastward for the sand bar separating the Long Island Sound from the Atlantic Ocean.  I can only tell you in very undescriptive terms, the wine was amazing.  Why isn’t there a TV food or wine show that speaks honestly about what they try?  I don’t ever remember Andrea Immer once saying to the winemaker, your wine tastes like the bottom of my shoe.  No every wine she tasted was, “amazing”.

For me the food and wine and company were A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.  No really, not the TV fake amazing, more like the "homie" amazin'.  See by leaving the “g” off the word it gives it an entirely new meaning of raw power and truthiness.  Word to your wizzile.

September 11, 2007

Why aren’t all the major news stations covering the memorial service today? 

A Day Our Lives Changed.
Our Nation Needs to Remain Vigilant.
Take Time to Pay Respects.

September 9, 2007

How stupid is Senator Chuck Schummer?  I have not been a fan of his since his speech to the special graduation class of firefighters in late September in 2001 when he tried to be a statesman.  His speech paled in comparison to Mayor Rudy’s comforting words.  I remember watching the event on TV and he actually paused for applause lines in a speech to grieving families and uncertain new cadets.  He has said some crazy things between then and now but in this week's speech he said that violence reduction in the areas of Iraq where we have additional troops has nothing to do with the hard work of those troops.  Everyone has the right to disagree with the war and the troops being there, but if he takes the time to simply listen to the words that came from his mouth, his brilliant lawyer mind would have a hard time agreeing with his own logic.  Chuck, don’t make it worse, don’t dig a deeper hole by trying to say you were taken out of context or you disagree with your own speech.  Simply do the right thing and say you were on cold medicine and had hay fever and couldn’t think right.  You meant to say that the rest of Iraq is in shambles but the places where our troop presence has increased and violence has decreased is a direct result of the professionalism and hard work of the young men and women that wear our uniform and volunteer to serve.  I ask the simple question, does this man reflect the brainpower of every New Yorker?  Is this what you elected to represent your common sense approach to reality?  I submit to you the reasons for term limits.

September 8, 2007

I receive a lot of strange calls and emails, but last Wednesday I got one I never thought I would have to field.  I was chastised for parental control issues. Well, it’s not exactly as I might have expressed.  One would think our bawdy site should have parental controls.  I blush after reading what I write, but a teenager should not be on our page.  Unfortunately, the call came from my mom and she thought I should put a parental control on my page so my parents can’t read it.  Thinking about it, knowing my mom reads what I write causes me to temper my language.  You could image what it would be like if she didn’t read it.  It seems that our video clips created the need to upgrade the software on their computer.  As of now, I can say yes we have parental controls on our site.  Technology being what it is, I am sure they can download a plug in and bam, all my drunken ramblings will be viewable again.  It does raise the question of restrictions and age appropriateness of content and should we set and upper and lower limit on our site.

I say, the USA was born with the right of a free press.  So reader beware, mom or not, I’m writing what I will.  It does make for strained discussions at Christmas dinner when I have to explain that a thumb up the punt is not as dirty as it sounds.  Funny but not dirty.  So parental control free, I look forward to drinking and writing about it.  Just one request, Mom, please stop sending me the pictures of you at the beach in the WinoStuff thong. …

2005 J Pinot Noir Russian River Valley $$ (29.00)   This one starts out tight and needs air time, Dr. J airtime.  Once the pinot loosens up, it brings raspberry and red cherry flavors with a spice and vanilla on the back-end.

September 4, 2007

Editor's note:  Bob's been at it again.  He's discovered how to create a video podcast.  Now he's producing video clips and consuming bandwidth like there's no tomorrow.  I'll get an RSS feed going soon so you'll immediately know when The Bob has gotten drunk and whipped out the video camera.  Here's the latest...

September 2, 2007

How do you come back to reality after a Jackie the Jokeman show?  You take the Mrs. to a very special dinner.  No, not some overpriced place in the city.  You accept an invite to Wino Odd Job’s home and enjoy the meal beyond what I could afford.  Last night Wino OJ opened his ultra modern cooking facility and entertained us with a food storm.  We were going to head to a local BYOB, but instead he offered to cook, so I offered to bring the wine.  I had three in the sack and wanted the main one to be fitting of his culinary talent and wine preference.  I started with thunder from down under, and lucked out when WOJ served up grilled chorizo sausage wrapped by cilantro shrimp.  The spice of the sausage, the flavor of the cilantro and the seasoning of the bar-b, played well with Justice George’s ’05 Guilty.  Yes Wino Paul, Wino Odd Job just upped the ante with the chorizo and no he will not give me the recipe.  He took grilled cilantro shrimp to "11".  Since I reviewed the Guilty as a Wino Bob favorite, please refer to earlier entry.

The salad course had a tomato and mozzarella stack surrounded by fig, almonds, olives and caper berries.  I must admit, I did not know what a caper berry was until last night, but if I ever see one again, I got it covered. I opened the Argentinean blend.  The variety of flavors on the salad plate made a blend the better choice.

For the main course, I brought along a super Tuscan as the WOJs like Italian reds.  Though the wine typically would not have been served with the grilled ahi tuna steaks, at that point we were in it for the wine and not so much the pairing.  Mike decanted it as soon as we arrived so by dinner; we were able to appreciate the craftsmanship of the Tuscan rebel who dared to bring cabernet into the local grape mix.  I was worried as this bottle has been in my cellar for several years.  With my cellar, it’s sometimes hit or miss on long-term storage.  Fortunately, this one hit and we were able to see the grace of this wine shine through.  It was almost the perfect way to end the night.  You see, in the Wino Odd Job world, the perfect way to end the night is sitting at his bar, enjoying a night cap and singing to one of the over 5000 songs in his cd jukebox.  It won’t be complete until Teen Spirit hit the speakers and the obnoxiously drunk and wailing Wino Bob had his turn adding new food lyrics to the song.  Fortunately the bar is set in such a private location, only one black bear was within earshot of my vocal assault on a perfectly good song.

2003 Tikal Patriota Bonarda-Malbec $ (24.99)   A vibrant blend of bonardo (charbono) which delivers plum and black pepper while the malbec puts a backbone of black fruit and stiff tannins.  A compliment to the sweet fig, salty capers, cheese and tomato.

1998 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia $$$$$ (137.00)   Subtle and elegant wild berries with black truffle, herb and tobacco on the mid palate ending with a long sexy finish of chocolate.

September 1, 2007

What do you get when you go to a show by a 59-year-old comic who has been doing the same material for 39 years in a venue that seats 50?  No, that’s what I thought also.  No, you get a 2-hour laugh feast.  This entry will not be about wine.  Rather, it is about just how much energy and freshness The Jokeman still brings after all these years of the same basic act.  Hell, I have seen him numerous times but he manages to add something different to the delivery or the lead in.  Uncle Vinnie’s is an intimate setting so there is no hiding and afterwards you are up close and personal with the act.  Jackie’s graciousness and zest for his profession makes every picture he poses for like it’s the first one all day.  Jackie The Jokeman is still a funny dude.  If you get the chance, go see him. 

And I apologize for the hex I put on you before I started the drive to Point Pleasant.  Surprisingly, the traffic was not the nightmare I anticipated.  In fact, I got there early enough to walk from town to the boardwalk and soak in the smells, sights and sounds of summer in NJ.  The immediate smells of funnel cake, sausage and pepper sandwiches and pizza greet you a block away.  The sound of crying kids, and spinning carnie wheels pierce the air.  But there is nothing better than seeing the ocean from a bar stool at the Tiki Bar.  Please don’t confuse it with Tiki Barber, its namesake.  Rumor has it he was conceived after a night of Pt Pleasant Slammers and clams on a half shell.  Just think, he could have been named Jenkinsens Barber if his folks had been two spots north on the boardwalk.  

August 31, 2007

I hate when I read other sites and they start off with something lame like, "Wow I can’t believe this much time passed since my last entry..."   In the spirit of lameness, I can’t believe…. 

Seems like the world is spinning faster than 1000 miles an hour.  I wish I had a car that drove 1000 miles an hour and I could drive to Napa for lunch and back on the same day.  I live far enough west that I wouldn’t have to contend with any of the damn bridges. 

 Though I haven’t been drinking (anything I haven’t posted before which in Wino Bob land is like being on the wagon).   I have been trying to find a new exciting freshness for the site.  In the next week, will be gaining a new respect, which is great since we don’t get any now.  The new feature, once the technical aspects are finished, will thrill and amuse, so stay tuned, folks, stay tuned.  The unveiling is right around the corner. 

Here is a sneak preview...                   

The Essex County Wine Society just sent me the upcoming tasting schedule.  They are all about pinot this year; I guess I am having an impact before my check clears.  We have a burgundy, a vintage burgundy and a white burgundy tasting slated.  The ECWS concurs that this is the year of the pinot.  I wonder if they are contemplating a pinotfest? 

Hey, stay safe this weekend.  I am off to see Jackie the Jokeman Martling.  Unfortunately he is playing in Pt. Pleasant on the Friday night starting the Labor Day weekend.  Way to go, Jokeman, I have to sit in 4.5 hours of traffic to see your recycled jokes.  Why not just do it at the Asbury park tollbooth?  The ride home wont be bad, but getting there will be a bitch.  If it wasn’t for the fact that he announced that I would be in the audience, I might skip it.  OK, Jokeman, be funny.


The Burger King


The Burgundy King

Lest anyone be confused by my post the other day, I wanted to make sure you don’t go into the drive thru at BK and ask for a glass of LaForte.  And please don’t ask this guy to hold the pickle or this might happen to you.

August 25, 2007

Sorry.  I don’t often apologize, let alone start a very important page of mine with that word.  I must, I am sorry.  Several weeks back my friend and favorite wine wonder from down under, Justice George was kind enough to ring me up (I’m trying to speak his language).  He was telling me about his 05 release of Guilty.  I made him a promise that I would pick some up and let him know what I thought.  Then work, and family and my detox got in the way.  Yesterday, I got an email from the good judge asking where my review was.  Crap, I pissed off a judge.  Even though he is 4500 miles away, I don’t know how long that arm of the law is.  So I headed to Church Street and grabbed three bottles of Guilty from the shelves of Amanti Vino. 

Fittingly, I had dinner plans with Shiraz Head himself, Wino Stan.  He had made a reservation at Luigi’s in Newark.  Yes folks, the second murder capitol of NJ, the city that never sleeps cause they are responding to 911 calls.  The restaurant is small and most of the chairs face the door.  Enough said if you know what I mean.  The lobster ravioli was killer and the Guilty handled the pink sauce like a charm.  The beauty of this wine showed itself with my veal Luigi.  This dish of veal, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms and artichokes gave off an aroma that had me drooling.  But Wino Stan said it best, the Guilty didn’t back down and kept giving.  The first bottle showed well enough for us to head back for cigars and espresso and more Guilty.  The true test to a ballsy wine is how it rates when you puff a stogie.  Let me tell the Wine Goddess this simple statement, the 05 Guilty is not weak, is not watery and will slap you in the face with its bold dark fruit and wood.  At one point after dinner I thought the wine had enough wood that I could use it as a tooth pick. 

Magazine articles have been written that wine makers craft to Robert Parker's palate, but at the risk of sounding pompous, I think the good Judge crafted this one to my personal liking.  Just so I am not blowing smoke up your ass (I know for some of you that is a good thing), grab a bottle and judge for yourself. 

Yes, the usually big-berried George made the 05 from tinier berries with more concentrated fruit and a bit of berry envy.  Remember George, its not the size of your berries, it’s the power of your fruit and this one delivers.  Tiny berries seem to fit you.  So join me in toasting George’s tiny berries as they exceeded expectations.  If you ever meet George in person, ask him about his 05 tiny berries.  I am sure he will be glad to tell you all about them and the big bold wine they make.  By George, I think you have this one nailed, at least for this lover of meaty, chewy bold Shiraz.  Piss off Barossa; Justice George has just delivered the verdict with a powerhouse red for the record.  

2005 Shinas Estates Guilty $ (19.99)   Look again at the price.  Yeah, you.  For under twenty dollars you can enjoy a slice of Bacchanalian pleasure.  Bold black fruit with vivid images of staves, a touch of mint and tannins that need to be roped in at first pour.

August 24, 2007

Mother of my Lord Jesus, a guy takes a few days for a metro-sexual lymphatic detox mud treatment and spends the next ten days trying to catch up.  Add to it the over-reactive port authority bridge crew that now is checking every known bridge in the tri state area so no one falls into the east river.  You end up not writing about a great wine night, several days ago.  I need to figure out how I can work less, drink more and live like Wino Wally.  Yes, we were treated to a rare appearance at the WinoStuff corporate restructuring meeting this past week by WW.  By restructuring, I mean moving my sober cells to the drunken side of my brain.  My contribution was a 1998 P. Jaboulet-Aine Hermitage La Chappelle that I purchased as my Christmas gift from my parents.  Saved them a trip and I got what I wanted.  Only the best for the two chuckleheads that form the WinoStuff conglomerate.  Wino John brought gifts of California cab and Brunello but at the point I exited the dinner, I had little desire to find a pencil.  Maybe desire is not the right word; call it little hand eye coordination. 

As I saddled up the stagecoach, I got one of those new type messages that appear on your phone.  @ Bakus w/burg king, stop in.

Yes, Winos and Winettes, finally I would share some wine with one of my favorite heroes, the over inflated plastic Burger King head that appears on TV commercials in NFL games.  But what in the hell is he doing at Bakus, I mean Bacchus?  To my disappointment, it wasn’t the Burger King; it was the Burgundy King, Laurent Drouhin.  He was there with Big Bob for a very important dinner that I must have been left off the invite list.  Fortunately, I crashed the place just before The Burg King and Big Bob headed north and I shared a brewski with Laurent and about the fact that he hasn’t invited me up to his house or on his yacht since he has moved to the USA.  I said he hasn’t invited me on his yacht, or to dinner at his palatial estate.  Hello, phone ready and waiting, email working, text messaging working…. World-class boater here, wine lover, pinot noir- grape of the year decider.  That’s right, I’m the decider.  BTW, Laurent, you can also find my myspace page that has my email. 

1998 P. Jaboulet-Aine Hermitage La Chappelle $$$ (85.00)  WARNING-  Do not drink this vintage, send it immediately to WinoStuff for destruction.  This vintage is on the down side, color is changing, fruit is fading.  Only for Rhone Head consumption at this point.

August 18, 2007

Here’s a gem I found the other day while having a very important business lunch with Wino John.  Though WJ’s palate is as hard as a turtle shell from all the California cabs, he still has a small section available for his Chianti jones.  The nuanced sangiovese grape, when crafted properly, brings a smile to his face.  This one came from a master craftsman and in so doing, got positive head nods from Wino John.  The 26 generations of Antinoris producing Tuscan wines would lead me to believe they know what they are doing.  This rather inexpensive wine for what Tuscany offers, delivers an impressive wine.  Maybe it was the cabernet sauvignon doping that places this into my comfort zone.  This will be on my must buy list for the day I become Wino Wally wealthy and can afford a large stock of nice wine for my cellar.  For now, it will be the plonk I can afford.

2001 Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Reserva $$ (33.00)    This wine bursts with dark cherry fruit and a spice undertone.  I detected a bit of tobacco on the nose but not sure if it was the wine or the atmosphere at JR tobacco.  Upscale for pasta, but a nice sidecar for veal parmigiano.

August 16, 2007

Just got back on the red-eye from the Land of Enchantment.  Taos offered the most relaxing environment at the El Monte Sagrado Resort.  The place must be electric in late fall with snowcap on the mountains and a snap in the air.  We dined at De La Tierra, their award-winning restaurant.  The menu is limited but eclectic and I found the Elk Chop and Bison Sausage a unique culinary experience.  The wine by the glass selection was limited so I ordered the 2004 Archetype Shiraz Barossa as it goes well with game.  The $13.99 bottle of wine was offered up at $10.00 a glass, which made it the most reasonable one on the list.  The wine held up well with its mocha and smoke flavors running over the red raspberry and dark cherry fruit.  It sure beat the two local wines I had earlier in the week. 

One note, hold off for another three months before booking a room at the El Monte.  They are still under construction and the lobby is not ready.  The construction crew works from 9-5 so sleeping in is limited if you are on the expansion side of the property.  This place is an oasis in the two stop light town with a staff ready to make sure you have everything you need for a relaxing stay.  Note to ass kickers:  I bypassed the spa at this place and just hung out and soaked in the clean mountain air.  Nice place to remove yourself from the rat race.

August 12, 2007

Every once in a while, I venture off to find something new and different.   Some might call it a 12-step program, others call it vacation.  I did something that growing up in Bloomfield NJ would have lead to an ass-whooping behind North Junior High School.  I checked into a spa resort tucked in the foothills of Santa Fe and spent 2 hours in a..., well..., ah..., a “treatment”.  It was described as a lymphatic detoxification therapy to purge the 30 years of toxin ingestion.  It was a clay-infused herb mixture applied to the lymph rich regions of my stickly figure.  It burst with aromas of sage and seaweed and cooked on me for a half hour.  I don’t feel uniquely different at the moment but I guess it won't hurt for me to spend a bit of time repairing the damage that years of late night wine imbibing has taken on my stick. 

The most interesting part was afterward as I was sipping my green tea, I found a pamphlet on the wine history of New Mexico.  Now that I am detoxed, why not add small doses of the toxin back just so my body doesn’t go through a violent reaction?  There are currently 900 acres of grapes grown all over the state.  Some I will be looking into for special terrior factors will be the Pecos Flavors Winery offerings from the UFO-infused Roswell, NM.  I am sure the hint of burnt alien aircraft and crispy outer spacemen finish the wine with a flavor only captured here.  The other wine would be from the Balagna Winery located in Los Alamos.  Winemaker John Balagna spent 42 years as a nuclear chemist at Los Alamos National Labs.  Can you imagine what this guy can do with a chemical compound?  I bet his refractometer is nuclear powered.  In all, there are 43 wineries and tasting rooms throughout New Mexico and if I hadn’t come here to find my inner spirit, I would be here to taste every local grape made into the juice of the gods. 

As a side note, for the second time, fate has given me an interesting ingredient for the trip.  Last year I took a book called Absinth and found myself on the streets in Paris.  This year, I grabbed a book by the counter at Staples on an impulse.  The book is called The Alchemist and the message meshes well with the atmosphere in this place. 

For dinner, the family strolled the streets of downtown Santa Fe and stopped into a placed called La Boca.  Santa Fe is quiet on a Sunday night but the restaurant was packed.  It is a Tapas style small place but they had several dishes that received raves from the family.  The two that were unanimous were the lump crab and scallop cannelloni and the beef tenderloin tips.  Personally, I enjoyed the fennel pork grilled sausage in pomegranate syrup and the basque roasted potatoes.  The wine list was small and didn’t have much that excited me.  I waited to get back to the lodge and we sat outside for a nightcap.  Being in Rome, I went with the local offering.  They had a pinot noir from a winery in Albuquerque called Gruet.  It was $13.00 for a glass and I would not serve it to my worst enemy.  I really get pissed at myself for spending a God-awful amount of money on a God-awful glass of wine.

I ended the night trying to clean out my palate with a Diavolo from Vivac Winery in Dixon, NM in the Embudo Valley.  At $10.00 per glass, this wine was much more to my liking.  It surprised me how big and fruity it was with nice dark berries and a touch of mint and cocoa.  I would consider purchasing some of this for the ride home.  So it is off to Taos, where the beautiful people go and I drive through because I cannot afford to stay there.

August 10, 2007

In the spirit of my father’s friend who makes wine, our northern NJ wine group headed to a local facility last night for a unique experience. We headed to Hawthorne, New Jersey (home of the Hawthorne Caballeros- it just doesn't read as well as hearing Bob Shepard announce them at Giants Stadium).  One of the members just finished making wine at this facility and recommended we try it for some education and wine tasting.  The event was held at:

The Winemakers Cellar
1050 Goffle Rd.
Hawthorne, NJ 07506

Host Big Bob introduces Winemakers Cellar guru, Mike Guarnaccia.  Big Bob speaks better with wine glass in hand.

Above, owner Mike Guarnaccia explains to the group the fate the poor grape suffers to become the elixir of the Gods.

The all important bottling process, right now this is the only way I can get my wine since they would not let me camp out under the bottling machine.

While the rest of the group was on the tour, I sampled from each barrel to ensure quality.  The third from the front on the right side, wow, that guy’s in for a surprise.

The best way to keep Big Bob from talking about wine is to feed him.  He catered in food that was enjoyed by all.

Roast Filet of Beef Platter 
 Smoked Salmon Platter 
 Grilled Chicken Platter 
 Cole Slaw 
 Wheatberry Salad  Macaroni Salad 
 Snow peas with Shallot Oil 
 Large Garden Salad 
 Rolls & Butter

 There is another event here next week.  We are hoping it remains full, as last night we experienced 7 last minute no-shows. 
As you can see the food tables were full as Big Bob pulled out all the stops.

The wine theme for the night was to bring a bottle of homemade wine or a variety of grape you hadn’t tried before.  I had a shoe in with my parent’s neighbor, a seasoned home wine maker who crafts big reds.  The list of what we had:

2003 Torres Nerola 80% Xarella/20% Granacha

2002 Conneaut Cellars Winery Cabernet Franc

2001 Prado Ray Crianza Tinto Fina/Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon

There were two homemade wines

2005 Ponzini Wine Cellars Cabernet Franc/ Petite Sirah made at the Bacchus Wine School in Toms River, NJ by my southern NJ wine connection.

2005 Spillane Vineyards Bordeaux made at Winemaking Plus NJ in Livingston, NJ.

For those members planning to attend, please do so.  Michael and his partners are a great group and would be happy to help in any of your wine making needs. 

August 8, 2007

The events are spinning out of control and so much happens in the blink of an eye it is hard to decide what is worth commenting on.  The numbers 756 and 500 and 300 all hold significance in baseball but why those numbers?  I understand the 756 of Bonds being a new record, but why does the 500th hr of A-Rod bring half a million dollars?  Why not the 501 since he then goes over a milestone.  But it seems the 501st hr ball will appraise at just $2.99.  Will the 600th bring three quarters of a million for a collector?  I drank my 500th glass of wine this month and there was no one looking to collect my glass and auction it off at Sotheby. 

I am suffering debate overload.  With the field so large, the events leave seconds for us to hear their talking point.  Why don’t we have a weeding out process pre July so we can spend the summer drilling into the two or three serious people and give them the time to explain the two sentences they use to make a headline.  It is called specifics.  I want to hear details, not letting the candidate get away with bullshit and not being called on it.  More importantly, when a candidate says the government is broken, and they have been in Congress for twenty years, shouldn’t someone ask them why they didn’t fix things while in the position to do so?  I know I have a winology about politics, but a Senator or Congressman having had the chance to formulate the bills and laws to address these issues but have an empty resume should be asked why.  As President, they would do things they didn’t do in Congress.  I don’t know why I bother since no one listens but its funny to hear Hillary complain about things that this country needs when she and her husband had eight years to do something.  After all she was the co-President as we are told now.  But people like Biden and Dodd sit twenty plus years in the Senate and then tell us how for twenty years we didn’t do the right things.  Weren’t they part of the solution cycle? 

 Quick, my 513th glass of wine, anyone want my glass?

As I enjoy my salmon and stew over the news, I am fueling my ire with a brash sauvignon blanc from New Zealand.  It has just the right acidic value to churn my stomach. 

2005 Sheperds Ridge Savignon Blanc Marlboro NZ $ (11.99)    A solid summer wine with lime and gooseberry flavors and a lemon drop finish.

August 3, 2007

Avis had to try harder since it was second to Hertz.  Being second best sometimes lands you on the island of misfit toys.  Pleasantly, this second-label from the California boutique winery Darioush is a find.  I liken it to Ugly Duckling Rental Cars.  At first no one wanted to drive around leaving LAX, Tinsel Town Airport with an Ugly Duckling sticker on their bumper, but the price-to-value soon turned heads.  That is exactly how I felt drinking this one today.  The second label from Darioush is simply called Caravan.  It is selling out in the local wine shops in NJ and I can understand why.  It is not a steal at $31.00 but it is impressive compared to the full-bladder pricing of most California Cabernet Sauvignons.  If ever I become piggishly rich, this would be one of my TV wines while I light up a stogie with a Grant (fifty dollar bill for you in Rio Linda).

2004 Caravan Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (31.00)    The blackberry and dark cherry greet you right up front, no hide and seek games here.  The finish is espresso stapled on to an oak tag poster board.  14% alcohol.  NICE!!!!


(Yes Wino Stan I made a mistake- thank you for reading my last post)

The free wine event is Saturday August 18th in Parsippany.  The 8th is a weds and Not the correct day.  Please note, the date in AUGUST 18th for the Free Wine event in Parsippany Sheraton.

August 1, 2007

I received an email yesterday inviting me to a free wine tasting at the Parsippany Sheraton.  Ok, check the name; Wino Bob. Free wine is my middle name.  So I emailed the emailer back and said I would be happy to post up an invite to my local readers and pass it along to our wine group.  Then I received a bit more detail.  There is a free wine tasting of North Carolina wines on August 8th (Correction - August 18th)  The sponsor is The Vineyards at River Landing.  It seems that the company is developing a real estate project around a 10 acre vineyard that property owners will have some stake in.  Kind of like the golf community for winos.  So if any of you are up to a real estate pitch with the possibility of winning a trip for two to see the place, the info is below.  Just so I am clear, The Vineyards at River Landing have NOT paid me to advertise this, nor have they offered me a FREE TRIP.  They have NOT offered to fly me down and see the proposed vineyard, nor have they offered me a FREE HOME SITE to help get the word out.  WinoStuff is not an employee nor affiliated with this company.  Now if the good folks at The Vineyards at River Landing really want me to throw the weight of WinoStuff behind this deal, I’m thinking a WinoStuff retreat house would be nice so we could lend our expertise to the winery. 

Here are some details:

Where:  Sheraton Parsippany, 199 Smith Road, Parsippany

When:   Saturday, August 18, from 10am to 5pm (Informational/wine tasting sessions planned for 10am, 12 noon, 2pm and 4pm, approximately. Come anytime!)

Cost:    Free

Fun thing:  Everyone who attends eligible to win a two-night, three-day stay at River Landing, and a great opportunity to indulge in a very relaxing lifestyle and learn even more about The Vineyards by seeing it in person.

Description:  An informative Open House to learn a lot the outstanding real estate opportunities at The Vineyards at River Landing. We will feature a complimentary wine tasting with several wines produced in North Carolina.

The Vineyards at River Landing is the newest neighborhood at River Landing. It's pretty unique because they plan to plant 10 acres of the land next May and create their own vineyard for the exclusive enjoyment of the folks who purchase property within The Vineyards, build a home and start enjoying a relaxing lifestyle.  

July 31, 2007

What a treat last night, a filet mignon special dinner on a Monday night.  I could not let that hunk of meat linger on the plate without an appropriate side dish.  I am not big on the potatoes or veggies.  For me the side was a supple red wine.  Filet mignon and red wine, a meal in and of itself.  Simple, flavorful and healthy- I think.  I am dubbing this the Wino Adkins diet, no carbs on the plate, just dead cow and the heart-healthy counterbalance.  At least that is what I thought until this morning. And from reading Wino John’s You Too Can Look Twenty Years Younger from Big Ass Cab. The dentally-challenged scientists in Great Britain just pissed in my oatmeal.  More likely, they pissed in my red wine.  It seems that the daft Village Idiots in white lab coats reported today that I have a 25% greater chance of butt cancer than my non-wine consuming friends.  Thank God I don’t have any non-wine consuming friends!  So we will all spend the waning years of our lives in flatulence heaven as our bowels fester with cancerous growths and seeping sores.  I do have some questions for the Python troop, since two large glasses of red wine is what I use to brush my teeth in the morning, what per cent do I go to with a bottle a day?  Is this the reason Paris smells the way it does?  Will white wine keep my asshole from falling off?  If my bowel does develop cancerous polyps that leave holes in my large intestine, will I be able to fart a symphony?  Sorry folks, this is the most upsetting news I have gotten this year.  My bowels are loosening as I type this.  Oh the humanity….

1999 Robert Sinskey Vineyard Reserve “RSV” Napa Valley $$ 45.00 (est)    A subtle blend of 52% merlot, 28% cabernet sauvignon and 20% cabernet franc bringing soft blackberry, black cherry and a tannic undercurrent.  A soft finish and 14% alcohol makes it approachable.


(Edirot's note:  WinoJohn was on vacation for the last few days and was unable to post Bob's incoherent ramblings.  I apologize to all (both) of his loyal fans for the short delay in getting you your daily dose of Bob.)

July 28, 2007

Hey, don’t blame me, I have been drinking like a fish. Wino John is the technical geek so I am at his mercy for posting.  While WJ was relaxing on tropical beaches drinking girlie drinks with paper umbrellas, I was here slaving over bottles of wine to keep our audience happy.  Last night was dinner in town at Rusillos with our tried and true friends.  Much to my palate’s delight, Wino Jim broke out a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino that was simply delicious.  Had I known he was going to spring that on us for the main course, I would have asked for a larger glass, hold the veal.  It had been too long since the last time we dined together.  The wine was a special treat since the last time we were at dinner, the snow was 20 inches deep. 

I got home with an enjoyable Brunello glow and popped on the Tivo to see what it had found for me over the past week.  There was an episode of Uncorked, Wines Made Simple, by the Queer Eye Guy.  Let me tell you, it was insufferable.  Mother of Pearl, I don’t know what this guy was paid to do it but he should be up on grand theft charges.  There is a one-camera shot of some basic winery interviews and tastings as Ted voice-overs a script in a monotone, dry, snailish manner.  Thinking about it, PBS hit their mark with this one.  Hey, has anyone seen my reading glasses and geritol?  I understand they just hired him for a documentary on paint.

2001 Argiano Brunello di Montalcino $$ (59.99)   This one starts out woody and tight, but relaxes to a pleasant black cherry, mocha and licorice silky wine.  A well-crafted wine to complement red sauce-based dishes.

July 26, 2007

Unfortunately, this was the scene last night at our wine meetup dinner, a reserved table without participants who had signed up and said they were in.  Big Bob was able to secure the entire dinning room at Rosemary and Sage for the Northern NJ Wine Meetup Group and one of his other groups.  Unfortunately, what was a commitment of 30 on Monday, soon dwindled to 14 yesterday and 8, yes 8 of the remaining 14 did not show.  There is a large commitment on Big Bob’s part and the restaurant turned away reservations because of the commitment of our group.  Instead, there was an entire table of people who did not cancel and did not show.  This impacts our reputation as a group and does not bode well with restaurateurs.

Fortunately, there was a table that enjoyed the 5 course offering at Rosemary and Sage.  I especially enjoyed the cold pea and tarragon soup and my main course of the most tender and succulent short ribs over mashed potatoes.  As this was not a BYOW, I found the wine list inviting and well priced.  I shared a bottle of 2002 Qupe Central Coast Syrah that carried a price of $24.00.  I can buy it at retail for $16.00, making it a very attractive purchase to pair with my short ribs. 

The one thing I will say is that the size of the group not withstanding, we always manage to have a great time with lively conversations and laughter enough to send espresso out your nostrils.  The happy NNJWMG members are shown here.

This was just after the soup and right before the appetizer sampler.  For those keeping score, appetizer is a four-syllable word and came in handy during the after party. 

A small group left after dinner and raided the Wino Odd Job compound, adding two new verses to “Teen Spirit”. 

My plea goes out to the group that we keep our commitment numbers for the upcoming event on August 9th.  See you for the winemaking experience.

July 22, 2007

What a gorgeous day the weather delivered, so what better way to spend it than on the porch, with a glass of wine, and a cigar, and a mild breeze?  Needing company, I invited one of the guests that didn’t make it onto the list at the C/P/B Fest.  Yes, Bella showed up, but being a mixed race, Bella was not allowed to participate in the evening’s events.  (Note the highlight of CBP Fest currently on our front page.  The Wino John power thinking/nap is priceless.)  Wino Odd Job brought Bella to the fest, but Bella, being a blend, would have altered the strict guidelines and violated rule 22.3.45 on page 119 of the Official CabFest Handbook rev B which WJ issued at the start of the event.  This little beauty from Alexander Valley was segregated from the crowd when it was determined that it had only 40% cabernet sauvignon, thus rendering it a bastard wine. 

Last night, Bella Winery’s Hillside Cuvee spent the evening on the porch making me realize my wine friends have a great ability to locate unique wines, and I need to go back to my group as I am spending too much time with inanimate objects I think are people. 

2004 Bella Winery Alexander Valley Hillside Cuvee $$ (30.00)  A blend of 57% syrah, 40% cabernet sauvignon and 3% zinfandel at 14.5% alcohol gives this wine depth and backbone.  Nice mocha and sweet cherry flavors with a touch of vanilla on the finish.

July 16, 2007

I was flipping through the 150 channels last night and was amazed to find out that our own Big Bob has a show.  How could he have kept this from us for so long?  After investigating a bit more, I found out the person I swear is Big Bob, turns out to be a foodie called Andrew Zimmern.  Big Andy makes his living going to far away places, eating the most unique edible items in the land.  Hey, judge for yourself in the latest edition of WinoStuff’s Separated at Birth.

Famous food guy, Andrew Zimmern
enjoys a gourmet meal

Famous big guy, BigBob Ferdon
enjoys a brontosaurus steak

July 14, 2007

I got together locally at Ocha, a recent Sushi restaurant in town, with my buddy Steve.  I would call him Wino Steve.  The name is available.  I don’t think he’s much of a wino yet, but I am slowly changing that.  On my way there, I picked up a South African chardonnay as he is more of a white wine person and I could deal with chardonnay as a compliment to sushi.  Their menu is diverse enough that I haven’t had to eat the same thing twice, though the volcano roll is a weakness and their spider roll is worth doubling up on.  Steve has some very exciting projects on the horizon, a film he executive produced and a terrific festival coming to NY in April.

The Imagination Festival

April 12, 2008
Park Central Hotel
870 Seventh Avenue at 55th Street,
New York City

Imagine how ones life could change, how our perceptions on our actions, how our lives on Earth could change---if only we could see everything in perspective---instead of just as far as the horizon.

"It was only five hundred years ago where mankind looked as far as they could see, saw the Horizon, and believed the Earth was flat.     It's amazing how our imaginations become limited by what we see.     What we really need to experience, is an evolution in our perception as we stimulate the imagination"

"The human race is headed towards the Dark Ages unless Humanity Wakes up and sees what's happening and makes significant changes."  --Edgar Mitchell, Astronaut and Sixth Man to walk on the moon

IMAGINE YOURSELF not where you are, but instead, One Hundred Thousand Miles Away from your home, from everything you know, from every bit of familiar surroundings.
Immerse yourself in one of the most forward thinking events dedicated to the advancement of humanity.

Featuring leaders and visionaries from the worlds of space and humanity exploration

I’m looking for some very big things out of this guy over the next few months, should be fun…

2003 Zonnebloem Chardonnay $ (10.99)   Deep rich golden color with melon flavors, a buttery texture and a vanilla layered finish made this a nice compliment to my tempera shrimp, spicy tuna and avocado sushi roll.

July 10, 2007

I strolled through the aisles of my local wine shops and it appears to me that all the good wine names are taken.  That must by why the rash of odd names continues to vie for shelf space.  At the recent CabFest, I heard Wino Odd Job mention he was thinking of bringing the SKN (Screw Kappa Napa).  This wine is just one in the line from Don Sabastiani and Sons.  Yes, their marketing meeting must be late night drunk-fests to add such labels to the shelves as: Used Auto Parts, Kono Bura (horned fool), Fusee, Plungerhead, Hey Mambo, and of course Gino da Pinot.  The need to get noticed and remembered is much different in California than Bordeaux. 

 I laughed out loud seeing the Arrogant Frog label, what could be more fitting for a wine name?  Maybe the French are getting a sense of humor about their arcane system.  I wonder if their need for the US market is causing a new spirit of brotherhood and wine. I didn’t have the big bucks to buy that $9.99 Arrogant Frog, so I went for a Cote du Rhone for $7.99.  It wasn’t bad but the name was just so catchy.

2005 Chateau Beauchene Cote du Rhone Grand Reserve $ (7.99)    Besides the classy name and the raised image in the bottle, (that must have been 1.50 of the 7.99)  the wine was OK, not the worst I have tasted.  The perfect wine if you have friends that are not really wine savvy.  They will be impressed with the name and the bottle.

July 9, 2007

After a food orgy this weekend, I didn’t feel much like cooking.  The oppressive heat and lack of leftovers found me looking to local restaurants for dinner.  A new place on the Avenue opened recently so I figured it is just as well to give it a try.  The place is called EUROGRILL- traditional Portuguese wood-burning barbeque.  The menu is limited.  I ordered the half chicken, half rib dinner, and then headed a few doors down to Shop Rite Discount Liquors.  Looking for something complimentary to a wood-burning bbq, I went with an Argentinean wine from one of the better-known producers.  The grape was one with which I have little experience so it would compliment the little experience I have with the EUROGRILL’s fare.

I was impressed when I picked up the bag; it contained a 13-inch by 10-inch foil tray.  I start thinking that I hit a winner, a wine and large dinner for less than twenty bucks.  When I got home and opened the tin, I was bummed out to find that half the tray was rice and french fries.  Why do I need rice and french fries?  Potatoes are not a veggie, this is a rip.  The flavor of the chicken and ribs was delicious and I would order one or the other again, but I am not digging the rice and fry thing.  I would have been better with one or the other.  I probably could have gotten two meals out of the 10.99-dinner if I was a rice and fry guy.  Instead, I pitched the rice, had a few fries and cooked up some veggies, which added to the meal cost.

I could do the chicken alone and if the amount I had was only half the chicken dinner, it would be worth it.  As for the wine, the identity-confused grape is a widely planted red from Argentina.  I have read that Argentinean Bonarda has roots in Piedmont but then again so does the California Charbono.  I’m leaning Charbono; maybe I just like saying Charbono.  None-the-less, the wine value out preformed the food value.  No extra rice in this bottle.

2005 Bodeges Lurton Bonarda Mendoza $ (8.99)   This is a solid two and could even go higher knowing the price is so reasonable.  Nice black cherry and plum flavor with a structured tannic backbone.  Not much on the finish but plenty that hits youup front.  I like this one.

July 8, 2007

I am not a scientist but I think I read once that a genetic mutation occurs every 15,000 years.  Last night I was fortunate enough to witness such an event.  I saw a T-Rex evolve into a Spendasuarus.  This mutation took place in Bayonne of all unlikely places.  My friends Wino Paul and Winette Alice were generous enough to invite me to dinner.  The usually stingy Wino Paul’s T-Rex like arms had a burst of growth allowing him to reach his wallet and pull out all the stops for food and wine.  I was worried when he kept talking about the time he spends watching cooking shows and how he is into sauces.  If he starts talking about cooking pots and stuff, I draw the line.  He wanted me to be impressed by his appetizer,  grilled clams with bacon, red pepper and breadcrumbs.  He pulled out the 2 dozen clams and with the skills of a blind surgeon, nearly sliced his artery shucking the clams.  I said shucking.

The pride of the night was his beef tri-tip. I was not familiar with the tri-tip, but the grilled triangle steak was flavorful and lean.  In his need to show off his culinary skills, he made a coffee, bourbon, pepper marinade that also served as gravy.  The meal would not have been complete without his zucchini carpaccio.  Yes, I typed it correctly, zucchini carpaccio, woo hoo. 

The newly lengthened appendages came in handy for the food going directly from the grill to the serving dishes; unlike the past several meals that detoured onto the ground.  His long arms also allowed him to reach past the bargain bin at the local wine shop and serve up a Napa sauvignon blanc from the (nineteen) 75 wine company.  This refreshingly crisp SB worked well with the clam appetizer.  The mineral and citrus notes stood up well.  The beef tri-tip was paired with a 2003 Folie a Deux Cabernet Sauvignon Napa that showed nice blackberry and bramble fruit.  Since the new Spendasurus is still getting used to the dizzying feeling of blood rushing to his hands while reaching for his wallet, it was not the estate reserve.  The finish was simple but the wines showed a snapshot of a new lease on life.  I hope that it lasts, but most of all so does Winette Alice…..

July 7, 2007

7-7-07, bet the ranch on 23 black.  Gambling was never my thing.  Against the loud and demonstrative protests of Wino John, I bastardized his original concept of CabFest and held the fifth Cab/first Pinot fest.  It seemed that Big Bob always left Cabfest early, so as homage to the Grape Of The Year and as an olive branch to the Big Guy, house rules tweaked the event made famous by WJ. It must have been good because the last memory I have of it was the clock showing 2:45 and me being in a drunken, “I love you man” discussion with Bob, no not Big Bob, and no not Golden Eye Bob, the Other Bob.  As the phrase goes, we were the last two standing, or wobbling up the stairs.  The crowd had some new faces that made the discussion diverse and kept the night lively.  Several of the highlights were actually low lights for the others. 

At one point after dinner, the cigars were blazing and I looked over at the one chair to find Wino John slumped down like JFK in the Zapruder video, his head was back and to the left and the melodic sounds of nose whistling caused us to point and laugh.  (It must have been the Pinot)

Having heard enough of his song, I decided to break out the old guitar and handed it to the one with the long history of rock and roll coursing through his ponytail.  Surprisingly, Wino Rocker seemed out of tune and struggled to find a chord in my key.  Look, I understand the pitch of my key makes the neighbor’s garage doors open, but it usually sounds good in my head.  After about ten minutes, I had enough and grabbed the guitar to play my closer, my symphony in G-minor.  It must have been so awful that it finally woke Wino John up (I blame the Pinot)

Within an hour Wino John retired for the night, Wino Golden Eye headed home, Big Bob and Wino Odd Job made their exit and Wino Rocker fell asleep on the lounge chair.  Which left me incoherently babbling to the Other Bob for what seemed like an hour, well actually it was an hour of real time so God only knows what it seemed like to TOB.

The bright side this morning is that there were no comatose bodies, no left over smelly food and no puke to clean off any walls.  I have to say the night of what I remember was fun and the diverse crowd fostered new friendships, but most of all for me, it was a night of learning.  I learned that I shouldn’t get drunk and babble nonsensically, I do that rather well sober.  I learned that my cooking sucked so badly last time that Big Bob brought his own food and TOB took the grilling tools away from me right after he saw me almost dump the veggies onto the ground.  But most of all I learned that there are some Pinot Noirs that I need to pay more attention to for educational purposes.  But I fell back into the trap of liking the bigger, bolder Pinots.  WJ had a funny line to Big Bob that his palate was calloused from the Big Ass Cabs he likes making it hard to appreciate the nuances in the Pinots.  (Maybe that’s only funny to me)

The Pinots in no particular order:

2006 Como Sur Pinot Noir Chile

2005 Yamhill Valley Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir Willamette Valley

2005 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir

2003 Nicholson Ranch Pinot Noir Cactus Hill Estate Sonoma

2005 Walter Hansel Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

2005 Hitching Post Pinot Noir Cork Dancer 5.1 Santa Barbara

1990 Joseph Drouhin Gevery-Chambertin

1999 Domain Confuron-Cotetidot Vosne-Romanee

1999 Dom. L. Latour Chateau Corton Grancey

I failed to poll the crowd, and the crowd was quite happy about that, but I did pick up a few comments that the Nicholson Ranch and the Hitching Post were favorable to the calloused palate crowd; both showing more muscle than finesse and more forward fruit.  That took us through the appetizers and first two courses, and then it was on to grilled meat and Big Ass Cabs.  If I had to use the very unscientific method (forgive me techno-dweebs) of assessing the winners by which bottles had the least in them while cleaning up, The Drouhin and the Latour were the crowd’s Pinot choices for refilling their glass and draining the bottle.

Here’s the wind up, and the pitch:

2001 Mormoreto Castello di Nipozzano- 60% cab 25% merlot 15% cab franc

1997 Jean Leon Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva

2003 Amwell Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (OK it was a joke)

1997 Turnbull Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville

1994 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Fay Cabernet Sauvignon Napa

1990 Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon Napa

1994 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley

1994 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Napa

1997 Hess Collection Cabernet Sauvignon Napa

It might have been the change in the crowd by the time the cabs came out.  Or the diehards that lasted until early dawn, but unscientifically, the “What’s Left in the Bottle” meter defined the Silver Oak Napa cab of the night.  There was not that much of a distance between the Silver Oak Napa and the Hess, the Fay and the Grgich.  Remember, the crowd was weighted to the Big Ass Cab side of the meter.  Somehow showing off your best Pinot seemed odd.

The unfortunate off-key tones of Wino Rocker left Big Bob slumped back in his chair and Wino Golden Eye holding a plate in front of him trying not to toss his cookies.  The expression on Wino Rocker’s face is testament to the amount of wine he consumed that put him in his Happy Place.  Neighbors were heard shouting from their windows, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to listen anymore”.

July 6, 2007

For the Big Ass Cabernet fans, I highly recommend this book for your summer reading schedule.  Mr. Taber, by a twist of luck, found himself the only reporter at the "tasting heard around the world".  In 1976, George Taber was in Paris as a correspondent for Time.  He happened to be the only one to show up at the now infamous California vs. France tasting set up by Steven Spurrier of Caves de la Madeleine and the Academie du Vin.  Most interesting to me was the historic information on the California vineyards and winemakers that Mr. Taber delivers in an informative yet flowing manner. 

After reading this book, I have a better understanding why France hates America, their lassie faire attitude left them behind in technology and the crippling restrictions of the dogmatic French classification system allowed young upstarts from the New World to provide innovations in wine.  Sorry Big Bob, Beaune Clos des Mouches placed 5th behind 3 California Chardonnays (that is why Big Bob is a Democrat).  The most telling fact I walked away with was that at the beginning of WWII, French soldiers had a ration of one liter of wine per day.  Think about it…… Viva la Napa!!!!!

July 5, 2007

I picked up a book to kill some time during this quite week.  The past few nights I have been slugging through the back-story to “The Historic 1976 Paris Tasting that Revolutionized Wine” by George M. Taber.  It has brought me a perspective on the 1960-1970 Napa Valley that the Gallo story did not.  Steeped in winemaking, winemakers and wine lure, I found myself needing a sip of, well, wine.  Without overdoing it, I decided something light for summer would be appropriate for a work night.  I grabbed an E. Guigal, Techno-geek of the Rhone.  I am not sure why this was in the rack, but it was a 2004 Rose from Tavel, the Rose capital of the wine world.  Light and crisp with red fruit flavors did the trick, but it isn’t something I need to have again.  No, the book is about the Cabernet Sauvignon-crazed winemaking of Mike Grgich and Warren Winiarski, the influences of Andre Tchelistcheff and the vision of Robert Mondavi post his split with his brother.  I found the book so far to be very informative and a great resource on the life of those that set out to put California wines into the world-class status.  When I get time, I will scan the cover and post it in the book section.

For me I will keep the book and drop the E.Guigal Rose, capise?

July 4th 2007

Recently, the radio and roadside signs have clearly stated that fireworks are illegal in New Jersey.  I was never a crazy fireworks guy but the bombs bursting in air and the rockets red glare are only fitting for this celebration of the birth of our Nation.   With the power of the Internet, I found out that New Jersey is but 1 of 5 states that totally outlaws all fireworks.  I find the list curious as these 5 states are part of the original 13 colonies, the people that defined the holiday.  Come on people, why are people from North Dakota responsible, mature and adult enough to blow off their fingers but the families of those who died by the lead shot of the Queens Army are not? 

I will be spending the day in quiet celebration trying to develop a NJ approved black powder so next year at this time, I could be in the hospital one digit down.

God Bless America.

STATES THAT ALLOW SOME OR ALL TYPES OF CONSUMER FIREWORKS (formerly known as class C fireworks), APPROVED BY ENFORCING AUTHORITY, OR AS SPECIFIED IN LAW (39 states and the District of Columbia):







District of Columbia
















New Hampshire

New Mexico


North Carolina

North Dakota




South Carolina

South Dakota






West Virginia



(The above states enforce the federal regulations and applicable state restrictions).









IV. STATES THAT BAN ALL CONSUMER FIREWORKS (including those which are allowed by CPSC regulations) - (total of 5 states):



New Jersey

New York

Rhode Island

July 1, 2007

Last night, the Wino Rockers invited us over for a little nosh and some social intercourse.  There was a bit of pre-wedding planning the women folk needed to discuss so Wino Rocker and I chatted a bit about work.  On our way out to pick up the pizza, I asked WR if he was suffering from BUTA, he just seemed to offer up all the symptoms.  As we talked in the car, it became clear that he was not suffering from BUTA (Bug Up The Ass-itis) but rather he was concerned about the tremendous loss he feels from the upcoming marriage of his only daughter.  I tried to tell him he needs to look at it in the traditional sense of not losing a daughter but rather gaining a son.  He is expanding his family structure, one day becoming the grumpy grampy incarnate. 

It took time for him to admit it, but finally on the way home with the food, he told me this loss would be big to him.  Unfortunately he was speaking of the loss his wallet would suffer and had nothing to do with the family situation at all.  Yes, Wino Rocker is spending his last few weeks with the Franklin family, actually the multiple clones of Ben himself that Wino Rocker sleeps upon will be heading to a new home soon.  I will do all in my power to run the bar bill up and have been asked to be the special man for the ceremony.  No, not the best man, the special man.  His daughter asked if I would take her home movie camera and follow the old man into the office to record the momentous occasion of Wino Rocker handing over the check at the end of the night to the catering manager.  I also will be required to carry a first aid kit with smelling salts and nitroglycerin in case his heart stops or he loses consciousness.  I am hoping to post that video on youtube.

2005 Almira “Los Dos”, Grenache-Syrah, Campo de Borja, “Old Vines” $ (7.99)    This is a fresh, unoaked blend of grenache and syrah that goes well with pizza.  Too mellow for a steak but fine for a Thursday in front of the TV.

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